May is a bitter-sweet month for me. Some of my most favourite people in the world celebrate their birthdays in this month and the weather is pleasant with spring in full swing. Daffodils line the borders of the garden beds and lawns are ready for their first trim.
I look out the window, into my back garden. It has been raining all day but I am actually pleased as I spent the weekend weeding and planting. The magnolia tree is in bloom, even though it’s only 4 feet tall at the moment. We planted it in memory of my late mother and brother in law. I look forward to the years when I can finally enjoy its shade, as though I were in her arms again. I’m always looking for ways to connect with my mother and having been an avid gardener, I feel her presence amongst leafy souls.
“Grief is a cruel kind of education.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Notes on Grief
Years after my mum died, I was consumed with anger. I was 25 when she passed, recently married and had relocated to Edinburgh. Life felt good, so it’s no understatement that I felt blindsided; cheated on what were meant to be rosier days. The days after she passed, I was in a bubble. Family and friends rallied around us and provided us with the support and comfort we desperately needed to come to terms with our loss. However, time moved on and so did people. The cocoon, that kept me from the wrath of loss I was ill-prepared to deal with, was gone. We were not special anymore, after all, everyone loses someone. The guilt was instant, “if I was there, maybe I could have done something.” Of course this all comes from an egotistical place within. When I could not carry the guilt any longer, I found something else to focus all that pain on. I blamed God. He was supposed to be omnipotent and my mother prayed everyday, dedicating her time and resources in praise of Him. So, of all the people in the world, why her? That question consumed me for a long time.
“You ain’t felt grief, till you felt it sober.” Kendrick Lamar – Mother I Sober
With the benefit of hindsight, I understand that the anger saved me from deeper depths I may not have been able to crawl out from. Over the years, I have come to marry the joy of life with the sense of loss that never quite leaves you. Overcoming grief is a constant practice in resilience. In looking for connections, you also have to feel the loss. I had deitified her in my memory but the burden of anger became a toll I could no longer bear. Over the years, I have revisited my roots with fresh eyes, no romanticism but simply the reality of what was.
“The attempt to escape from pain, is what creates more pain.”
⁃ Gabor Mate
My mother was my anchor; she gave meaning to my life because I was still building my own. Even though we were thousand of miles apart, I wasn’t ready to let go of her support, never mind losing her completely. The sad part is, memories do fade. We get older and the details are murkier which is frustrating. I kept the last text she sent me for the longest time “Miss you. So many nyayas, no one to talk to.”
Sometimes when I struggle to recall certain memories, I worry it’s because I spent so many years angry instead of cherishing what I had. I look at my daughter, and I grieve the love she will never receive from her maternal mother. I know she would have been loved fiercely and spoilt rotten. I see so much of my mother in her.
Some questions have no answers, and some wounds do not heal. But life still demands that we show up; so that’s what I do, everyday. Except today, 17 years later also on a Tuesday, my heart bleeds.
There is no grief, like the grief that does not speak – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow